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GaN boost for APEC 2024 Feature articles | March 3, 2024 The Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC) in Long Beach last week highlighted the continuing innovation in both new…

GaN boost for APEC 2024

Feature articles
March 3, 2024
Nick Flaherty

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The Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC) in Long Beach last week highlighted the continuing innovation in both new materials such as gallium nitride and controller architectures for higher efficiency design in smaller footprints.

Startups such as Cambridge GaN Devices, Pulsiv and Amber Semiconductor are showing how they are pushing power technology at APEC 2024, while Infineon, EPC and Analog Devices are pushing down the costs and showing key innovations.

UK startup Cambridge GaN Devices introduced new reference designs and showed several demos for its integrated GaN devices in industrial market.

The 350 W PFC/LLC reference design has an average efficiency of 93% with a power density of 23 W/in3 and a no-load power consumption of 150 mW. The CrM Totem Pole PFC + Half-Bridge LLC PSU has been realised using CGD’s 650 V, 55 mΩ, H2 series ICeGaN technology, and delivers 20 V / 17.5 A output.

Light load boost for integrated GaN chip

A 3 kW PV solar inverter design developed in the partnership deal struck last year with Neways Electronics uses the IceGaN Devices to achieve a maximum efficiency of 99.22% due to zero-current switching with a standard silicon controller from Analog Devices.

100V chip scale GaN driver has smart bootstrap

“We are acutely aware of the increasing power requirements of industrial applications, and the need for high efficiency,” said Andrea Bricconi, Chief Commercial Officer at CGD.

 For example, as the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) proliferates, the power demanded by the exponential growth in power demanded by datacentres is growing almost exponentially. Other applications, such as solar inverters, amplifiers, transport and smart mobility, process control and manufacturing are also interested in GaN and the feedback we have received is that they love the simplicity of our ‘Drive it Like a MOSFET’ approach.”

ICeGaN devices have been used by AGD Productions in its compact AGD DUET amplifier which is rated at 300W. This is the first time the company has used a 100% GaN power transistor design for both the power stage and the amplifier.

Finally, the GaNext project, a consortium of 13 partners from three nations has delivered compact 1 kW intelligent power modules featuring integrated drive, voltage control and protection circuits using CGD’s ICeGaN.

This came as EPC showed the first 100V GaN device with a on resistance under 1mΩ to boost the efficiency of motor control designs and Power Integrations showed a more integrated GaN-based switcher for consumer designs.

First GaN FET to hit 1mΩ on-resistance
GaN switcher combines AC-DC and DC-DC stages to slash power

UK startup Pulsiv showed high efficiency reference designs using its Osmium controller that pave the way for the integration of power conversion into wall sockets, eliminating the need for adapters for phones and laptops.

240W in wall USB-C charger module hits 95% efficiency

US startup AmberSemi was also showing its AC Direct DC Enabler power management device for the first time that can be used to provide DC power.

This is AmberSemi’s first commercial silicon chip and is currently in customer evaluation for integration into end products as early as Q4 2024. The company says it has evaluations at 30 key electrical products and semiconductor company sites across Europe, the US, and Asia.

Amber Semi tapes out its AC-DC silicon

AmberSemi showed 4W, 2W and 1W demo designs, all with various power densities to extract DC directly from AC Mains without the use of rectifier bridges, transformers, and high-voltage, bulk capacitors. These are alongside two demos of its second technology, the AC Direct Switch controller platform. This has been used for solid-state smart outlets, dimmer switches, and circuit breaker prototypes.

“We’re incredibly excited to display our AC Direct DC Enabler in silicon for the very first time to the broader industry, as it marks the most tangible step yet in our path to commercialization,” said Thar Casey, CEO of AmberSemi.

“In the last year alone, we’ve advanced rapidly from the tapeout phase of siliconization to the design-in testing stage of our technology with Alpha customers, including multiple industry-leading partners in the semiconductor industry. As early as the end of this year, we anticipate that AmberSemi’s technology will formally be introduced to the marketplace through collaborative reference designs and integrations with these partners. In addition, end products, powered by AmberSemi, are expected to be in the market from our product partners starting in 2025. With all of that now in motion, we believe the sky’s the limit for our technology.”

Infineon showed its latest coreless solid state isolation technology that dramatically cuts power consumption, and smaller vertical power delivery for high power AI modules in data centres.

Coreless solid state isolators cut power by 70 percent

Infineon looks to 2000A for AI power module

Liquid cooled 25kW battery charger for industrial and mining applications

Redesigned package reduces IGBT conduction and switching losses

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